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Do people think a fear of men and what they can do affects their views of men but is unfounded in reality?

(85 Posts)
snoofle Sun 25-May-14 19:10:15

Thinking about all the NAMALT that stuff - some people on here, including me, said they fear male violence and that this fear held them back and that men benefitted from this fear.

But is the reality different? Most men aren't rapists. There is a figure on another thread - 6% of men. That is still a hell of a lot - but 94% aren't. Most men aren't abusers, don't attack women and don't use domestic violence.

If you meet a man, the chances are very very high that he won't attack or rape you. Chances are if you are walking in front of him, he is probably more nervous of worrying you.

But there is always that fear.

Do people think that talking about such things can make their beliefs of how men are differ from the reality of how most men really are?

It is important to talk about it and name the problem. But does it promote a climate of fear about men?

I'll be honest and I know that when I am in certain situations, I think carefully about what to say and what could happen - even though I know it's very unlikely. But the outcome for me could be awful. I am scared of certain situations and I try to avoid them. It holds me back

GarlicMayonnaise Tue 27-May-14 19:45:02

I'm not sure I can participate in this discussion as it is right now. My background and world view aren't 'normal' because I was raised by a violent man, whose work brought him into daily contact with horrible male criminals. Consequently, I believed all men are violent, particularly to women. My father also taught me ways of deflecting this violence; they proved effective, and perhaps this made me over-confident. In any case I wasn't prepared to hole up at a convent, so strode boldly wherever I wished to go. I have experienced more than my fair share of assaults: I do believe this happened because I failed to take precautions I assume most other women take.

The result of all this is that I have always - since babyhood - feared and expected violence from men. And that, simultaneously, I have not let this fear restrict my movements. I get the feeling this is abnormal.

Now, evidently, I know that not all men are violent; fewer are violent to women; and 1 in 16 is a rapist. (Also, those 1 in 16 are serial rapists.) I have not been sexually assaulted by a sixteenth of all the men I know, but understand they may have assaulted other women. I'd like to be able to report that discovering most men are safe has made me feel more secure - but it hasn't. Whether you're expecting violence from all men or just a few, the effect is the same because those few don't wear flashing lights, so you must always be ready to deflect.

This must use up a hell of a lot of women's energy.

Thumbwitch Tue 27-May-14 16:11:59

If 1 in 17 men is a rapist, and you are out on a full train, then statistically there could be 4 potential rapists just in the same carriage with you.

GarlicMayonnaise Tue 27-May-14 14:58:09

Just marking this, as I was reading the thread in FWR but thought it could get different replies here. Am off out, but will RTFT later.

havenever Tue 27-May-14 09:30:50

I don't think quite alot of men want a healthy relationship with a woman. It suits their requirements justfine as it is, doesn't it

BillnTedsMostFeministAdventure Tue 27-May-14 08:31:26

I still don't understand why "only one in 17 men is a rapist, so what are you afraid of?" makes any sense to anybody. Street harassment, minor and major sexual assaults and then forms of violence such as pushing, mugging, up to ABH and GBH are all part of the "stranger fear". Yet those stats are not being used in this debate.

In some of the above men are statistically as likely or more likely to suffer these from strangers as women. It's not either/or. I might be scared of catcalls from a group of teenage boys; an elderly man might be scared of them robbing him. His fear doesn't "invalidate" mine or vice versa.

CluelessCrapParent Mon 26-May-14 17:41:46

I think the wariness of men is founded in reality.

AskBasil Mon 26-May-14 17:30:02

I don't think it's true that we are a violent species necessarily.

Half the species has been totally excluded from any decision-making power about how society is organised for most of our recorded history.

We don't know how violent our species would be if that half of it, had been allowed to participate in organising our societies.

AskBasil Mon 26-May-14 17:28:04

"but we all think we'd recognize someone violent if we met them, I think"

Yes, which of course is nonsense and makes that subconscious risk-analysis entirely pointless, because there is simply no basis on which you can tell which random man is safe to be in an alley with and which man isn't. And yet we do it, because we just want to go about our normal business and want to believe that we can trust our own judgement to keep ourselves safe - which of course we can't, because whether someone is a woman-hater who wants to rape and murder women, isn't down to our judgement, it's down to their behaviour. Leaving us powerless to influence the situation, but there seems to be a very strong psychological need in all of us, to believe that we can somehow exert some control over potentially dangerous situations.

"how is being afraid of men any different to be afraid of black people?"

I am no more likely to be attacked by a black man than a white man (depending on population demographic, obv.) Yet I am more likely to be attacked by a man, than by a woman.

That's one reason why it's different. The other reason is that people are encouraged to be afraid of black people because of racism and as LRD says, encouraging that fear is part of the oppression of racism. Women are encouraged to be afraid of men for quite a different reason - to control our behaviour, to make us feel unsafe, to remind us that we don't own the streets in the way that men do, that we don't have the right to walk down the street without a owner man and feel safe. The emphasis is on the woman's fear rather than on the potential perpetrator of violence; whereas with the racist fear, the emphasis is on the potential perpetrator. Encouraging women to feel afraid of men, is not a form of oppression against men, but against women; encouraging white people to feel afraid of black people, is a form of oppression against black people.

There is a very different nuance IMO.

Eminorsustained Mon 26-May-14 17:23:07

Surely everyone, men and women , has a fear of violence ?

The perpetrators might well be men on the whole, but the victims are of both genders.

We are a violent species. Sadly.

Think you have misunderstood me?

I think that teaching children about healthy relationships (friendships as well as sexual relationships) will eventually mean there's less to be afraid of.

You seem to think this is all about women. Why?

And what 'uncomfortable truth's or 'root of the problem' do you mean? You're concentrating only on women, whereas I am looking at men and women and how they relate to each other, so I really hope you don't mean to imply it's only women's fault they experience violence.

Fasttouch Mon 26-May-14 16:56:41

Sure they would want to form relationships but how will that help with fear of strange men. Personally I think it is media propaganda it's easy to blame the other rather then talking about the actual root of the problem or facing uncomfortable truths.

Not to say lots of people don't already, but it's basic stuff, isn't it? You explain to children growing up what is right and what is wrong. I really don't think it is as complicated as all that.

Don't you think if men and women learn what healthy relationships are, they will want to have them?

Fasttouch Mon 26-May-14 16:43:38

I'm trying to understand your viewpoint, how will showing what a healthy relationship looks like help with women's fear of men if women such as yourself are not afraid of the men they would have relationships with?

These things will alleviate the fear.

You can only alleviate fear by alleviating the cause - that's why you need to teach what a healthy relationship looks like.

Fasttouch Mon 26-May-14 16:38:10

I meant alleviating the fear for women, I very much understand the violence young men in particular experience I have been in that situation a few times.

BoffinMum Mon 26-May-14 16:36:26

Wrapping people up in hijabs for fear of male 'temptation' sure as hell doesn't help anyone have a sense of perspective on gender issues.

I don't know that that's true.

There's a lot can be done. For starters, we could very simply and easily tell young men they are at risk of violence - the homicide rates are scary. We could tell women what to watch out for and we could show boys and girls what a healthy relationship looks like. That's a huge amount of it.

Fasttouch Mon 26-May-14 16:32:07

I guess I understand somewhat, although it would seem there isn't much men can do about it, as it is not based on what actually happens.

I have however taken what you have said on board.

YY, that's true.

I think it is partly because we all want to believe that someone would warn us, if a family member or partner were violent, whereas an attacker we don't know is unpredictable. It's not true, of course - you got those stories where people say that the attacker seemed completely nice and normal - but we all think we'd recognize someone violent if we met them, I think.

Thumbwitch Mon 26-May-14 16:24:45

But also LRD those are the stories that make it into the news. Take that poor Irish woman, Jill Meagher, in Australia - classic scenario. sad

In the same way, it's virtually impossible to say 'I should be afraid of all the men I know well, because statistically women are harmed by men they know'. It's just not really in human nature to go around feeling terrified of people we see all the time (or experiences we have all the time). I think that is why it is so hard for women who are abused to recognize it as abuse.

Thumbwitch Mon 26-May-14 16:22:03

Yeah, it was. She had taken the bus I used to take, walked past my parents' house, that kind of thing. Really shook me up!

Fast - I don't even think it's a conscious reaction. Apparently we're hardwired to be scared of snakes, because they can kill us, so if we see something that looks like a snake, we can have a fear reaction, even if we then realise it's not an actual snake - first glance triggers the reaction.
I can't even verbalise this properly - but I'm trying to say that a male figure looming in the dusk/dark could trigger an innate fear response, whereas family/friends etc. we'd see in a different light most of the time.

I don't think I'm making enough sense here but I can see why the fear trigger is more likely to be from strange men than ones you know.

Well, I think it is because we're told these situations are scary.

I do know, rationally, that if I walk home in the dark, it is unlikely I will be dragged into an alley and raped. But it is very hard not to feel afraid, because we're constantly given the message that rapists are monsters who jump at you out of the dark. You don't want to be the exception to the rule, and you're very conscious of the possibility because you're always hearing it as a scare story.

Fasttouch Mon 26-May-14 16:15:05

That is what I am trying to understand, I'm not saying your afraid of black people but wondering why you would be afraid of men who would not be the ones that would harm you. I mean is there any basis for that fear if your not including the men most likely to be violent towards you?

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